Magdalene and the Child

"Child, with wonder in your eyes,

Why have you come to my garden?"

"I love gardens."

"Then you will love mine

For it speaks to me in understanding silence,

And the soft laughter of the flowers

Comforts me in my loneliness."

"You are lonely?"

"Lonely! Always I have been lonely--

But you are with me now.

You do not draw away from me;

Your little hand, your clean little hand is in mine."

"I love you."

"You will love the mirror-pool in the moonlight.

See, the full moon of summer is rising--

Beautiful, languid summer!

I remember when the moon spoke of the 'flesh pots;'

Of fear and shame ... then of forgiveness,

And now of peace--The full moon of peace!

Here is the pool, child."

"I see our faces in it."

"The face of innocence beside my own

Where once reflected the faces of princes and nobles--

Men who bought my flesh with jewels,

Bound me to their desires with necklaces and bracelets.

I shall not be afraid to look in the pool now

For I shall see your face

The face of innocence--no scarlet jewels."

"Jewels sparkle."

"I had jewels to throw to the beggars in the streets,

Jewels with their scintillating light,

But never did I know the white fire of love

Till I had felt the searing flames of remorse and shame."

"Your face is sad, Can you smile?"

"My lips are smiling--always my lips have smiled."

"Can your eyes smile?"

"Tomorrow, my child, for with dawn I shall forget--

Your gift to me, the power to forget--I must forget ...

Scarlet ... to be white as wool ...

I must forget, all but ONE."

"Which one?"

(The moon shone full on her questioning face,

Full on the wonder in her eyes.)

"The One whose eyes met mine with compassion.

Desire I had seen in the eyes of men but never compassion."

"Tell me."

"From the street came the music of children's laughter,

Their dancing footsteps; their glad cries and shoutings.

Rushing to the doorway I saw, walking in the midst of them,

A man with a strange new beauty who drew me with a strange new power.

I started to follow, then remembering, I stopped.

"That did you remember?"

"You would not know, my child; You are a pure white lamb."

"Did you follow Him?"

"Yes, my child. Draping the cloak of my slave about me

I ran eagerly forgetting my hair was loosened

And my feet bare, nor felt the sharp stones.

"When He reached His destination, with a word and a smile

He sent the children dancing back to their homes.

I watched them go, their steps light

As only freedom from sin could make them.

"When I turned to Him again,

The Friend of the little ones was surrounded

By the Pharisees who had awaited His Coming.

Oh, the beauty, the beyond earthly beauty of Him!

I pressed through the group

And worshipfully touched His mantle.

I forgot who I was! The cloak slipped from me

And a whisper passed from lip to lip,

'Harlot! ... Harlot!' "

"What is a harlot?"

"Listen, my child,

The Man turned and looked into my eyes,

Compassion and sadness, not reproach, in His look.

Sadness ... compassion ... and love ...

High white flames plunged my veins,

And my eyes and soul knew the blessed release of tears,

Sweet, cleansing tears.

I fell at His feet and my tears bathed them.

I dried them with the hair of my repentant head.

Still kneeling, I waited, listening.

The jeering of those who reviled me ceased

And He who loved little children said,

'She loveth much.'

Then to me He spoke, 'Thy sins are forgiven.'

O blessed words!

O blessed, blessed compassion!"

"Your sins are forgiven."

"My sins are forgiven!

There is light ahead, ever a light ahead.

Now I must forget ..."

"Can you forget?"

"I can remember His eyes.

I can remember, 'Thy sins are forgiven.' "

"You can remember."

"But oh, my child

Keep wonder in your eyes;

Keep holy wonder in your eyes!"